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Welcome to “Ask an Editor” where our wonderful SCBWI members send in questions that are answered as part of our quarterly Kite Tales blog. AskAnEditor_2

Dear Editor – I am writing and illustrating a picture book. Do my illustrations need to fit a vertical (tall) layout? I can’t find a book that’s horizontal, but that’s my preference when painting.  —Ann, Los Angeles

Dear Ann – Great question! Industry experts respond.

For TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOKS,  Louise E. May, Vice President and Editorial Director of Lee and Low Books replies:

“While it may seem as if the majority of picture books have an upright (portrait) orientation, many are, in fact, published with an oblong (landscape) orientation.

“The decision about the orientation of a book is made based on the content of the text and how the editor, art director, and illustrator visualize the images. If a text seems like it has a need for many images with vertical height or deep backgrounds, an upright orientation will be chosen. If a text seems like it needs more horizontal room for wide scenes and broad expanses, then an oblong orientation will be chosen. Most photo-illustrated books have an oblong orientation because a majority of photographs also have this orientation. From a text and artistic point of view, however, one orientation is not better or more desirable than the other. The goal is to choose the orientation that best fits the visual needs of the illustrations and the illustrator’s style. From a financial point of view, it sometimes costs a little more to manufacture an oblong book because of the size of the paper sheets the printer uses and the number of book pages that can fit on each sheet.”

And, for SELF-PUBLISHING AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATORS, Amazon CreateSpace does NOT seem to support a horizontal image.

“We recommend illustrations be size at the trim size (width by height) for your book. There are various trim size options to choose from. For distribution purposes, we recommend choosing an Industry-standard trim size. For example, 7″ x 10,” 8″ x 10,” 8.5″ x 11,” and 8.5″ x 8.5.” All of these options are either vertical or square. If your illustration is taking up the entire background of the page, then it should be sized to the dimensions of the trim size.”

Thank you, Louise and CreateSpace! —Christine

To ask a question which may be answered in an upcoming Kite Tales, please follow this link and fill in the form (you must be logged in to your SCBWI account to access this feature): http://losangeles.scbwi.org/ask-an-editor/.

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Christine Van Zandt, SCBWI’s Kite Tales co-editor, Freelance editor, Write for Success, www.Write-for-Success.com